America in Primetime, which premiered on PBS Sunday night (Oct. 30) carries underwriting spots for Unilever's Dove brand produced by the Documentary Group, the team that created the program, and are shot in a style similar to the content, reports the New York Times. "Such crossover producing is increasingly common in commercial television," the newspaper noted.
Creators, writers and actors behind primetime television shows are interviewed in the series, which examines how character archetypes have evolved through the years. Unnamed Dove marketing and public relations executives are interviewed in the 30-second underwriting spots, discussing how the brand strives to relate to changing consumers.
Tom Yellin, president and executive producer of the Documentary Group, approached Unilever with the idea, calling it a “natural opportunity” for a program about the creation of commercial primetime television to feature underwriting from a longtime primetime advertiser. He added that in the program, interviewees talk directly to the camera; in the spots, the executives are shot from the side. “We didn’t want there to be any confusion,” he said.
The Documentary Group was founded by former colleagues of Peter Jennings, the late ABC News anchor. It has produced several pubTV projects, including working with WETA on Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, an interpretation of soldiers’ combat travails that aired in April 2007 as part of PBS’s America at a Crossroads series on the post-9/11 world.